tonight on "nightline," kill shot. after an agonizing 107 days, it's official. the well has been killed. so, now what? where did the oil go? is the water safe? and should you eat the fish from the gulf? we tackle the big questions. plus, wit and wisdom. from best seller to blockbuster. as the film version of "eat, pray, love" opens in theaters, author elizabeth gilbert takes us along on her journey from loss to love. how she got there will surprise you. and, wedding bells? a federal judge overturns a california ban on gay marriage.
so, will same sex marriage be legal everywhere soon? >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, martin bashir and cynthia mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline," august 4th, 2010. >> good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. the billowing black beast that terrorized the people of the gulf coast for nearly four months is dead tonight. killed with a precision shot of thick, heavy mud, engineers say no oil is leaking from the well and none ever will again, but if all is calm beneath the surface of the gulf, onshore, some people remain worried. what's happened to all that oil? jeffrey kofman reports from the gulf. >> reporter: talk about a quick recovery. many of the gulf fisheries have been reopened for just a few days, and already, the crab nets are full. you're happy? >> yeah. >> reporter: any sign of oil in
these? >> nope. >> reporter: none? >> you can taste it. >> reporter: you can taste them? you lick them? is that what you do? i can smell them. no oil, right? these images, where it all began, seem so long ago. it has been more than three months since the explosion and sinking of the deep sea drill deepwater horizon. that was late april. what began as an industrial accident morphed into an environmental catastrophe as it became clear that millions of gallons of oil were spewing into the gulf of mexico. i first reported on oil coming ashore on may 18th. at the time, it really did seem like the leading edge of an oil apocalypse. yet when we revisited the same marshes a few days ago, we were astonished to see the oil progressed no oil. there was some dead grass, come of it coming back to life. but the birds, the spectacular birds, were oblivious. the worst environmental disaster in modern american history seems
to have simply disappeared. so, here are a few key questions about how we got here and what's ahead. question one, where is the oil? it began to disappear as soon as the well was capped on july 15th. when i flew to the rig site on sunday with coast guard oil spotters, we didn't see a single patch of the oil that has become the defining color of this spill. >> the good news is that the vast majority of the oil appears to be gone. that's what the initial assessment of our scientist is telling us. the containment, the burning, the skimming. it worked. >> reporter: but what she failed to acknowledge were the huge amounts of dispersants spilled on the spray at sea. and the biggest contributor of all, mother nature. the churning waves of the gulf, the steamy 88 degree water, the sering 100 degree sun. and who knew there was a microbe in the gulf that eats oil? perhaps the only organisms on
earth happy to see the well spewing. question two. are the fish safe? we first met cindy and henry in june when they were delivering one of their last shrimp catches to the processor. most of the fisheries closed because of the spill have now reopened. shrimp season, which usually begins in late august, could open for a special season as early as this week. today, this family told us they are ready, but they are worried. do you think you're going to get your life back now and get back on track? >> if the perception of the shrimp being taint ed doesn't change, i don't know, because our problem now -- i believe -- is going to be the public and what they been told and what the media por tapes as tainted shrimp and the dispersants. the word is out that they don't want our shrimp. >> reporter: they may have to within over public opinion, but they already have science on their side. the federal government and
states are using public and private lab to test thousands of samples of gulf seafood before any fish rips are reopen. this lab has done more than 500 tests. what are you finding? >> we're finding very, very low levels of hydrocarbons. the levels that we're finding are well below the fda guidelines for contamination. we believe there's no difference between what we're finding out and what was found, what would have been found last year. >> reporter: question three. is there unseen damage? here's where it gets tricky. we went to this lab at tulane university in new orleans where researcher dr. erin gray has been studying the larva of blue crabs what am i looking in here? those are a millimeter across. the orange drops, this is worrisome? >> it's different. it's worrisome. >> reporter: those orange specks measure about one micron, one one thousandth of a millimeter.
they believe they are specks of oil. >> it will take us a few weeks to identify the compound, but really estimating the affects will probably take years. >> reporter: question four. can tourism recover? a quarter million people work in tourism in this region. normally this is peak season on dauphin island in alabama, but wary tourists are staying away. >> we really want to thank you for coming in. glad you came in to see us. >> reporter: that has meant catastrophe for the owner of flamingo fae's restaurant. >> in the beginning, were were hopeful. we were terrified but hopeful. as the days drug on, we named it the gloom and doom island on the dead sea. everyone began to lose hope. >> reporter: fae says she's lost her peak earning months. she is closing for good. josh smith is not as pessimistic. he runs a sport fishing lodge called sawgrass outdoors north of venice, louisiana. are the sport fishermen going to come back? >> yeah.
>> reporter: smith says he and others just have to get their message out. >> we're open for business and we're clean and there is no changers here. >> reporter: with the well capped and the oil mostly gone or cleaned up, the biggest challenge for gulf recovery may be cleaning up a tarnished image. i'm jeffry kofman for "nightline" in buras, louisiana. >> let's hope. finally, a bit of good news. we'll continue to keep an eye on the cleanup, of course. when we return, author elizabeth gilbert and the real story behind her best sell earl, "eat, pray, love." [ male announcer ] the financial headlines can be unsettling. but what if there were a different story? of one financial company that grew stronger through the crisis. when some lost their way, this company led the way. by protecting clients and turning uncertainty into confidence.
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we use satellite images, infrared and thermal photography to map and target the oil. then, the boats go to work. almost 6,000 vessels. these are thousands of local shrimp and fishing boats organized into task forces and strike teams. plus, specialized skimmers from around the world. we've skimmed over 27 million gallons of oil/water mixture and removed millions more with other methods. we've set out more than 8 million feet of boom to protect the shoreline. i grew up on the gulf coast and i love these waters. we can't keep all the oil from coming ashore, but i'm gonna do everything i can to stop it, and we'll be here as long as it takes to clean up the gulf. you may be missing some of the protection you need. crest pro-health is the only leading toothpaste to protect against sensitivity and all these areas in a single, all-in-one toothpaste. new crest pro-health sensitive shield. time to face the pollen that used to make me sneeze... my eyes water.
well, her story of love lost and unexpectedly found turned elizabeth gilbert into a star overnight. she's in the news again, with a movie of her book "eat, pray love" coming out soon. dan harris has this report. >> reporter: the cult of liz, including the 7 million people, mostly women, who bought her book "eat, pray, love." >> i isn't been this excited since bono was here. when he was here the first time, i was quiver. >> reporter: and julia roberts, whos is playing the author in a movie she shun of the book. this legion of liz gilbert worshippers, who see her as an
icon of female independence, might be surprised to learn that she's now settled down in new jersey, married to the man known in her books at fill lee pay, and has a new book with a new message, that women need to adjust their romantic expectation. there's a quote from your book, you say, i refuse to burden him with a tremendous burden of somehow completing me. >> it's a jerry maguire fantasy. we have to drop that. >> you complete me. and i just -- >> shut up. just shut up. you had me at hello. >> reporter: it makes for such good movies, it's so lovely and romantic, but it's a lot to ask that somebody deliver that decade after decade. >> reporter: it's not sustainable. notwithstanding the fact that julia roberts is playing you in
a movie, you are, in this book, doing your part to debunk the hollywood version of love. >> what i'm saying is turn on the lights, sober up. >> that's me. >> reporter: let's back up and tell you how she reached this. >> this is a picture of me and merle haggard. >> reporter: she was working at a bar called coyote ugly. ♪ >> reporter: yes, the one from the movie, which was actually inspired by a magazine article that bill gerth latshe later wr. you would dance on the bar? >> yeah, but i'm not much of a shimmier. i was kind of the ironic bar dancer. >> reporter: she was 25 and working here when she met and married her first husband. five years later, though, they endured a supremely nasty divorce, during which gilbert found herself walking through the city, sobbing. so, she took off on a year-long
spiritual journey, designed to repair and rediscover herself. eating her way through italy, praying and meditating in india and falling in love in bali with a brazilian man. her book about those experiences came out in 2006, and it is still on the best seller list today. >> i'm having a relationship with my pizza. >> this is my no carb left behind experiment. i'm going for it. >> reporter: and next week, the movie sversion opening nationwide. >> we're going to go watch the soccer game and tomorrow we're going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans. >> reporter: her new book, called "committed," picks up the story. the brazilian guy she fell in love with, turns out they stayed together after meeting in indonesia. but in 2007, when he was coming to visit her, he was detained and told he was going to be deported by immigration
officials at the airport in dallas. >> and the only way i could get him back was to marry him so, we were effectively sentenced to wed by the ins. >> reporter: bit of a surreal seen, basement of the dallas airport, officer tom? >> officer tom. as far as we remember. >> reporter: and he's doing premarital bounce selling. >> he said, you know what's the problem? you love each other, you live together, you're not married to anybody else. why not make the commitment? and my husband took his glasses off and, you know, rubbed his eyes and said, oh, tom, tom, tom. we've both been through really bad divorces. >> reporter: they decided to go for it, though they were terrified. your response to the terror was to say, all right, i'm going to learn everything i can learn about this institution. >> yeah, yeah. because it's been my experience in the past the more i learn about something, the less frightening it. it's kind of an academic mindset, that it can be defeated through information and knowledge. >> you just compared marriage to
terrorism there. >> yeah, sure. >> reporter: while they waited for the papers to come through, they spent months traveling through asia with gilbert questioning ea ining everyone s about marriage. and it was while sitting in a hut with vietnamese village women that gilbert had a moment of insight. >> it was really interesting for me to discover that my expectati expectations, what i carry into the matrimony relationship are vastly higher than anybody's expectations have been for most of human history. i don't want to become the preacher of, everybody must lower their expectations, but it's just really good to know that your expectations are probably super inflated. >> reporter: pouring through reams of research, gilbert discovered divorce rates skyrocketed when marriage evolved from a business contract
to a love match. >> i want somebody who inspires me. you know? like -- >> reporter: that's a lot to ask. >> that's a lot to ask on a wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. you know, inspiring? >> reporter: gilbert made peace with marriage by accepting its limits. though, frankly, by the end of the book, she still doesn't seem entirely convinced. you do all this exploring and you get to the point where you are wrapping up, and you say, do i sound like i'm trying to talk myself into something here? people, i am trying to talk myself into something here. >> absolutely trying to talk myself into something here. yeah. >> reporter: you didn't find much that made you feel like, all right, i'm gung ho about this. >> yay marriage. we got married behind there. >> reporter: in 2007, after ten months in exile, liz and her husband were allowed back into the states. where they got married in this old converted church that they bought and turned into a home. notwithstanding your deep aversion to marriage, did you
allow yourself to have some, you know, moments of true happiness? >> oh, i was crying -- yeah, i was very happy. i was very moved. >> reporter: she may not necessarily believe in marriage, she says, but she definitely believes in the person she loves. for "nightline," this is dan harris in new jersey. >> we should all be so lucky. the film opens august 13th. when we come back, we're walking in memphis in tonight's "nightline" play list. boss: and now i'll turn it over to the gecko.
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with sint kra mcfadden. >> mark cohen says he remembers being 11 years old and hearing a half dozen albums that year that made him want to be a musician himself. perhaps best known for "walking in memphis," cohen digs into his childhood with his new album "listening booth 1970." and tonight, he talks about the music that inspired this new collection of covers. mark cohen is tonight's "play list." ♪ she said ♪ tell me are you a christian child ♪ ♪ and i said ♪ ma'am i am tonight ♪ walking in memphis >> that's my calling card. and it all about musicians. i've been sort of paying tribute pretty directly to my favorite musicians all along. and memphis is, you know, the best example, i think, of that. ♪ she knows how to shake that
thing ♪ one of my oldest brothers had a band. what i remember really having an impact was the ray charles tunes they would play. specifically "what i'd say." when i heard that opening riff, i immediately had to, like, learn it. i asked him to teach me. i couldn't do it yet, but that's one of my earliest musical memories and that tune and all since resonate really strongly for me. ♪ just call me angel ♪ on the morning ♪ angel >> really beautiful song called 'angel of the morning." i was probably 5 or 6, and i walked to my local record store because i had to have this record. something about that lyric, now as an adult i listen to it, and i go, oh, well, it's about a woman after a one-night stand, but as a 5-year-old, i associated it with somebody very close to me that i'd lost, this
idea of angel of the morning was really powerful. ♪ we were born before the wind >> "into the mystic" by van morrison. i was about 11. and that whole album is still one of my favorite records of all time. but that song in particular. it's so poetic and wide open. i mean, we were born before the wind? also younger than the sun. i don't actually know what that means, but like blake or yates, he just had a way with lyrics, obviously, and singing them in a way that just made them so soulful. ♪ if you're traveling the north country fair ♪ >> when i'm starting to write, a form of meditation for me, a dylan song that i love called "girl from the north country."
♪ if you're traveling in the north country fair ♪ ♪ where the wind hits heavy on the borderline ♪ ♪ remember me do one lives there ♪ >> i can play that all day long and hopefully make a mistake and go off to something that might be one of my songs, but there's a few songs i use like that. ♪ nobody knows what i'd be without you ♪ >> "god only knows" by the beach boys is another huge song. i don't know if there's three more beautiful minutes in recorded music. and i'm including beethoven and everybody else. i want to sing that song. out of the air, without the chords behind it, it's a very hard melody for me to sing. every time i heard that record, imagining brian wilson in the studio with everybody there, you know, that whole thing was live.
he knew exactly what he wanted everybody to play, and he would, you know, say, this is the percussion part, this is the -- this is the drum part. these are the vocals. that is a masterpiece. ♪ oh baby ♪ baby ♪ it's a wild world ♪ ♪ i'll remember you like a child does ♪ >> mark cohen with tonight's "play list." when we come back, a judge opens the door to gay marriage. that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. but first, jimmy kimmel. >> jimmy: thanks, cynthia. e van mendes, callan mcauliffe, music from the black crowes and
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